My Experience With COVID-19

I have been debating whether or not to publicize that JP (my husband) and I had COVID back in March. This was confirmed only a of couple of weeks ago through an antibody test, since COVID tests weren’t available in our area when we were infected. I didn’t want people to think that I was sharing for attention, nor that my experience meant that theirs would be similar. As we know, this novel virus is affecting individuals in a wide variety of ways- from being an asymptomatic carrier to needing a bed and ventilator in the ICU. So please don’t lessen your precautionary measures after reading this.

I have decided to share my experience for a few reasons… 1) I want others to feel comfort in knowing someone who had it and survived without any complications., 2) I want to detail JP and I’s day to day signs and symptoms, that lasted for weeks, if not a couple of months., and 3) I want the running community I so deeply love to know how COVID effected my lungs longer than the symptoms and infection lasted for.

Let me start from the beginning…

A new restaurant opened around the corner from us. It’s a seafood bar, and my neighbors and I were intrigued. The news had really been buzzing with rumors of a shutdown coming our way, so against our better judgement, we decided to check it out just in case it was our last chance to (it was). The food was decent, but the company was better. The very next day, Mayor Lightfoot officially announced Chicago’s shelter-in-place order, which began on Saturday, March 21st, 2020. We joked about how we were happy to have had one last restaurant experience for awhile.

I must disclose that JP was extremely anxious from the get go, to the point that I was worried about him. Starting on Tuesday, he began complaining about tightness in his chest and being tired. I truly thought it was anxiety rearing its ugly head amidst the new stay-at-home order. I tried to comfort him and ask him if there was anything I could do, but he withdrew. I focused on and clung to what positives I could- having more time, not having to commute to school 3 hours a day, taking on new hobbies, etc. I even got creative and turned our spare bedroom (which we use as a library) into a temporary hot yoga studio. I did this by heating up the room with a portable heater (on full blast) one hour prior to the start of a virtual class. I would tuck a towel underneath the door to keep the cool air out and the hot air in, and I plugged in our humidifier that doubles as an oil diffuser. Adding eucalyptus oil was heavenly. I was off to a good start in self-isolation…until that Thursday, when I could hardly make it through my yoga class.

It was that feeling of impending doom- that an illness was on the verge of surfacing. I was honestly in denial about it. “I’m just really tired”, I told myself. That night, my sense of taste started to diminish. This was before loss of smell and taste were official signs of COVID, so I thought I had the cold, flu, or a potential sinus infection. The next day, I completely lost my senses of smell and taste. I chalked it up to my sinus headache, inflammation within the sinus cavity, and a possible infection. Yep, I was dumb and tried to self-diagnose.

So here I am, day 3 of feeling sick, with the following symptoms…

Day 1: Weakness and lethargy, started to lose my taste

Day 2: Sinus pressure behind the eyes, headache, lethargy, weakness, runny nose, congestion, inflammation in my nasal cavity, “wet” cough to remove phlegm production, complete loss of taste and smell

Day 3: Same as day 2

At this point, I was convinced I had a sinus infection because my nasal cavity/sinus passageways were inflamed as hell. I have never had sinus issues before. *denial*

Day 4:¬†I registered a fever of 100.9F (mild), another classic sign…

Day 4 is also when I came across numerous articles about people reporting loss of smell and taste as symptoms. THIS freaked me out, and I went down a rabbit hole on the web…

Day 5: Fever subsided, then returned later on

Day 6: All symptoms are still present, but fever has reduced

Days 7-9: All symptoms are still present, BUT seems to be improving day by day

Day 10: My taste and smell start to return after what seems like an eternity!!! Their function doesn’t return fully for another 4 days.

After 2 weeks of being sick (the average reported duration of COVID infections) with the loss of smell and taste (which was unlike anything I have ever experienced before), I was convinced we had and beat COVID. It wasn’t until JP made us appointments for antibody tests 2 months later that we confirmed our suspicions. Damn, were we relieved to have already had it and survived!

So, that was the quick rundown of our experience. It truly felt like an elongated flu bout. I was pretty much bed ridden for 3 days. Unfortunately, I had to crank out my part of a group presentation on subarachnoid hemorrhaging during this time. That was tough when feeling that bad. Aside from that, the worst of it was not being able to smell or taste in isolation! Correct me if I’m wrong, but food and beverage are among the few pleasures you can experience at home. And sex was off the table. LOL. No food. No sex. No fun.

Kidding aside, it felt like someone cut off my ability my smell and taste forever. Like a circuit was shorted. I could not detect an iota of a scent or flavor. NOTHING. It was truly terrifying. And during my dark dive into the web, it said that severe cases might permanently damage the epithelial lining of the nasal cavity- causing permanent loss of senses- WHAT?! Luckily, this wasn’t the case. But honestly, you’ll know if you have it with this.

I tried to run for the first time 3 weeks later. Yes, I was wearing a mask, and I still do while running. ¬†I care about passing it to others, even though it’s unlikely to contract it and become contagious again (according to a recent study). Anyways, it felt like I had never run before. Honestly, it felt like I was completely out of shape. For those of you who don’t know me, I have ran 9 marathons, 14 half marathons, and exercise 5-6 times a week. Perhaps a 2 week illness did a number on me, but it did not leave me THAT out of shape. I figured my body was still recovering.

Come to find out that COVID can do long-term damage to your lungs. While I don’t think it is permanent for me, I believe that my lungs took up until recently to heal. That is 2 months. Yes, it could have been me building my base for running again, but the chance that every run felt that tough and strenuous is questionable. JP thinks he had a resurgance of the virus a month later . His lethargy returned, along with coughing, which led to blood in his mucus. Sorry if this is gross, but I find this part important to share. Blood is scary and no joke. We took it seriously and contacted his doctor. They said to monitor it, and after 3 days, it went away. I really think his lungs were affected for a month or two longer as well.

I wanted to add this part for any runner friends who may contract this in the future. I do not wish this on you, but I want you to be prepared and aware that your lungs may need time to recover even after the infection, signs and symptoms have subsided. Give yourself grace. Listen to your body. Be kind to yourself.

Our last really odd sign was COVID toes! We didn’t realize until 2 months after, but our toes had developed these subtle calluses on top of them. I didn’t think anything of mine because I chalked them up to my running and new shoes. But JP mentioned it to me one day, and I was like, “OMG, we had COVID toes too!”. LOL.

So that was our experience with COVID-19. We are so fortunate to have been able to fight it and fully recover. I know others have not been as lucky. When we were sick, we just rested and slept a lot, stayed hydrated, dosed with vitamin C and multivitamins, took Tylenol, flushed with a neti pot, gargled with salt water, drank ACV and lemon tea, drank green tea, and ate a ton of fruits and veggies. I made protein shakes a few times too since protein is supposed to aid in healing. I wish I had known about dosing with vitamin C, D, and zinc prior to being infected, but ya live and ya learn.

Please feel free to reach out with any questions or comments. Once again, just because this was our experience doesn’t mean this will be yours. Take precaution. Be safe. Protect yourself and others. Be well. ‚̧

And get medical treatment should you need it!



COVID-19 & Zinc

COVID-19 & Zinc

It seems that vitamin C, vitamin D, and zinc are among the most talked about nutrients in relation to COVID-19. I already delivered the truths about vitamin C & D in terms of their true power in preventing or treating this virus, but let’s take a look at zinc.


Zinc is a trace mineral that is essential for growth, development, and managing the complexity of the immune system. It is found throughout all systems, organs, and tissues of the body. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that up to 31% of the world is deficient in this mineral, but the National Center for Biotechnology Medicine (NCBI) estimates <15% of zinc deficiency exists in the United States.¬Ļ

The functions of zinc include:

  • RNA synthesis and gene expression
  • Cofactor to more than 300 enzymes
  • Aid in alcohol metabolism
  • Growth
  • Reproduction
  • Immune function
  • Protein synthesis
  • Antioxidant
  • Stabilizes cell membranes


Sufficient zinc levels can reduce the risk for premature births, all-cause mortality, and stunted growth in children. In addition, zinc supplementation can decrease the duration and severity of child diarrheal episodes and Acute Lower Respiratory Infections (ALRI).¬Ļ As we now know, COVID can cause both upper and lower respiratory infections, so zinc supplementation could potentially reduce the duration and severity of a viral-induced infection.

In a study conducted in 2019 in Thailand, children suffering from ALRI who were administered 30mg of zinc/day recovered 1 day faster and were released 3 days earlier from the hospital than the placebo group. A similar study carried out with Indian and Bangladesh children resulted in similar conclusions- less severe cases and a shorter stay in the hospital.²

The mechanism by which zinc supplementation improves the symptoms of ALRI is unknown. Theoretically, zinc is essential for protein synthesis and cell growth, and it plays a critical role in maintaining the integrity of the immune system and respiratory cells during inflammation mucosal resistance.²

Zinc can possibly be protective against COVID symptoms, specifically for those at risk, by reducing inflammation, aiding in breaking up and clearing mucus build up, and modulating the immune system’s response. However, more isolated studies must be done to confirm its effects. When I say isolated, I am referring to studies that do not supplement with other nutrients simultaneously because it would be impossible to determine which nutrients had a positive, negative, or no effect on the patients. Zinc dosing must be the independent variable in future treatment studies.

So how do we protect ourselves against zinc deficiency?

According to the USDA, “the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for adult men and women is 11 mg/day and 8 mg/day of zinc, respectively”.¬†Like most other vitamins and minerals, zinc can easily be obtained through the diet and/or a multivitamin.

Dietary sources of bioavailable zinc include:

  • Shellfish
  • Organ meats
  • Eggs
  • Dairy
  • Enriched breakfast cereals

Bioavailable means that your body can appropriately and effectively digest, absorb, and process said nutrient. Zinc may also be found in whole grains and legumes, but the zinc is not as abundant or bioavailable in these foods. With that said, since quality zinc is mostly found in animal-sourced foods, those who are vegan may need to supplement to specifically address this lack of mineral absoprtion.

The Upper Limit (UL) for zinc is 40mg/day. However…

Supplementation with doses of zinc in excess of the UL is effective to reduce the duration of common cold symptoms. The use of zinc at daily doses of 50 to 180 mg for one to two weeks has not resulted in serious side effects.³

Just like vitamin C, zinc has been shown to alleviate cold and flu symptoms, which makes sense because these effect the respiratory system. The long-term supplementation of zinc can lead to copper deficiency, but this is not common. Please consult with your physician or child’s primary care pediatric physician before supplementing with zinc.

To wrap up the COVID & Nutrition series…

While vitamin C, vitamin D, and zinc can all arm the body’s immune system with virus weaponry, these nutrients do not provide immunity or prevention of contracting this virus. They can alleviate the severity of signs and symptoms, as well as the duration of an infection should one ensue. Please consult with your doctor before deciding to supplement. Food and drug interactions may occur for those with conditions or taking herbal remedies or medications.

Keep in mind that eating a well-balanced and nutrient-dense diet can set you up for an improved health outlook. While I do not want to condone using the phrase, “boosting your immune system”, eating foods or supplementing with vitamin C, vitamin D, and/or zinc can potentially alleviate symptoms associated with the cold, flu, and respiratory infections. Stay safe, and be happy and well, my friends!

Tell me. Did this article help?


Photo: HOTZE Health & Wellness Center.; 2017. Accessed May 21, 2020.


1. Wessells KR, Brown KH. Estimating the global prevalence of zinc deficiency: results based on zinc availability in national food supplies and the prevalence of stunting. PLoS One. 2012;7(11):e50568. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0050568

2. Rerksuppaphol S, Rerksuppaphol L. A randomized controlled trial of zinc supplementation in the treatment of acute respiratory tract infection in Thai children. Pediatric Reports. 2019;11(2). doi:10.4081/pr.2019.7954

3. Zinc. Linus Pauling Institute. Published January 1, 2020. Accessed May 21, 2020.


COVID-19 & Vitamin C

COVID-19 & Vitamin C

Moving on to another hot topic regarding COVID and nutrition- today I’m telling all about vitamin C! Nope, not the infamous graduation song singer. The vitamin. (bad joke, I know). ūüėČ

Vitamin C

Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is a water-soluble vitamin that is utilized primarily as an antioxidant. Antioxidants fight free radicals, toxins and stress that oxidize and damage cellular function. Vitamin C is considered an essential micronutrient because our bodies don’t produce it. Instead, we must rely on our diet or oral supplementation for our daily dose.

Dietary sources of vitamin C:

  • Citrus fruits (such as lemons, limes, grapefruit, and oranges)
  • ¬†Berries
  • Papaya
  • Potatoes
  • Tomatoes
  • Peppers
  • Cabbage
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Broccoli
  • Spinach¬Ļ

*If you are not consuming enough of these foods, a multivitamin should do the trick. The DRI (Daily Recommended Intake) for men is 90 mg, while the DRI for women is 75 mg.¬Ļ Just double check your multi-vit label.

Many of us have heard to take vitamin C when we feel like we’re coming down with something. Whether it’s drinking OJ or chugging Emergen-C, this is luckily a common knowledge remedy. And it’s true! Science has shown that vitamin C consumption does work as a weak antihistamine, relieving flu and cold-like symptoms like sneezing, a runny nose, and congestion or swollen nasal cavities.¬≤ But vitamin C does much more than fight off foreign invaders…

The functions of this vitamin include:

  • Acts as an antioxidant
  • “Recharges” enzymes
  • Collagen synthesis
  • Precursor to hormone production and secretion
  • Needed for formation of blood vessels, cartilage, and muscles
  • Essential for wound healing
  • Neurotransmitter
  • Hormone synthesis
  • Aids in iron absorption and storage
  • Anti-carcinogen
  • Protects against heart disease¬Ļ

As far as COVID prevention is concerned…

Different studies showed that ascorbic acid (vitaminC) positively affects the development and maturation of T-lymphocytes, in particular NK (Natural Killer) cells involved in the immune response to viral agents. It also contributes to the inhibition of ROS production and to the remodulation of the cytokine network typical of systemic inflammatory syndrome.²

While vitamin C cannot outright prevent contracting COVID-19, it has a significant influence on how your immune system responds to and fights the virus cells if you do become infected.

The classic symptoms of COVID-19 thus far are fever, coughing, and shortness of breath, a myriad of other signs and symptoms have been reported around the world. According to the CDC, these symptoms include, but are not limited to chills, muscle pain, sore throat, and loss of taste and smell. Critical illness complications are not typically discussed, but The National Institute of Health has an entire page on these, two relative conditions being sepsis and pneumonia.

Septic shock develops due to an infection. It displays itself as low blood pressure and organ failure. “It is estimated that 40% of critically ill patients with septic shock have serum vitamin C levels that suggest scurvy (<11.3 őľmol/l).” Therefore, vitamin C supplementation could be beneficial for this group.¬≤

But what does this have to do with COVID? Good question. COVID-19 is a viral strain that causes an upper and/or lower respiratory infection, among other signs and symptoms. Sepsis develops due to infection, so it is quite possible for COVID patients who are in critical condition can develop sepsis and display vitamin C deficiency.

The University of Palermo in Sicily, Italy has decided to treat their COVID patients by administering 10 grams of vitamin C in 250 ml of saline to infuse at a rate of 60 drops/minute. This was decided after a preliminary double-blind study was conducted on 167 patients with Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome back in October of 2019. The trial treated randomized patients with COVID pneumonia with 50 mg/kg every 6 h of high dose intravenous vitamin C (HDIVC) for 4 days versus placebo. By day 28, 46.3% of the placebo cases resulted in fatal conclusions, while 29.8% represented the mortality rate for those treated with vitamin C.² Those treated with vitamin C had a 36% lower rate of mortality.

Other studies have implemented similar doses with the addition of a glucocorticoid to fight inflammation and carb-restricted diet (usually parenterally administered, or through an IV).³

Vitamin C Supplementation Risks

Vitamin C toxicity is unlikely because it is not stored in the body; however excessive vitamin C dosing can lead to cramping, diarrhea, nausea, and even kidney stones in some long-term cases.

Possible food and drug interactions include the following:

  • Aluminum, found in phosphate binders, that could be harmful to dialysis patients
  • Chemotherapy
  • Estrogen
  • Protease inhibitors
  • Statins and niacin
  • Warfarin (aka Coumadin)¬Ļ

*Please consult with your physician before taking vitamin C.


While vitamin C has traditionally been used to ward off the onset of mild cold and flu symptoms, it has not been proven to prevent contracting COVID-19. However, vitamin C has been shown to increase the amount of T-lymphocytes and Natural Killer cells, which both assist the innate immune system in attacking viral-infected cells. Vitamin C also attenuates oxidative stress and inflammation. Lastly, in terms of prevention, this powerhouse helps modulate cell signaling by improving cytokine (hormone-like protein involved in the immune response) production and function.

Further studies are currently underway in the midst of this global pandemic, with many hospitals actively treating their COVID patients intravenously with vitamin C along with other biomedical treatments. So far, the results indicate that vitamin C can lower mortality rates for critically-ill patients.

Does this mean that you should dose with vitamin C? Nope! While it doesn’t hurt in suggested amounts, you can simply incorporate more foods and beverages that contain vitamin C or get your daily fix through a multivitamin.

Photo by Bruna Branco on Unsplash


  1. Vitamin C. Mayo Clinic. Published October 18, 2017. Accessed May 20, 2020.
  2. Rossetti CA, Real JP, Palma SD. High Dose Of Ascorbic Acid Used In Sars Covid-19 Treatment: Scientific And Clinical Support For Its Therapeutic Implementation. Ars Pharmaceutica. 2020;61(2):145-148. doi:
  3. Erol A. High-dose intravenous vitamin C treatment for COVID-19. Erol Project Development House for the disorders of energy metabolism. 2020. doi:10.31219/

COVID-19 & Vitamin D

COVID-19 & Vitamin D

The abundance of misinformation out there regarding COVID-19 and nutrition is alarming. While these pieces mainly revolve around “boosting” one’s immunity, some go as far as claiming that certain nutrients prevent or treat this virus. I have been wanting to write a science-based article that compiles truths and telephone-game rewrites of how nutrition impacts this virus and its hosts. **SPOILER ALERT** Some of it is true!!

The top nutrients in relation to COVID-19 will be discussed post by post over the next week, as one post would have been way too¬†lengthy to cover everything I wanted to. Today’s topic is vitamin D.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, meaning, it is dissolvable in lipids (fat) and stored in the liver and fatty tissues. We can obtain vitamin D from the sun (of which our skin converts and transfer it to our liver then kidneys to be activated), or from dietary sources.

Dietary sources of vitamin D include:

  • Fish (such as salmon, tuna, herring, cod and sardines)
  • Egg yolks
  • Beef liver
  • Cheese
  • Mushrooms
  • Fortified foods and beverages (such as cow’s milk, yogurt, soy milk, plant-based milk, orange juice, and cereals)

The functions of this vitamin include:

  • Calcium homeostasis
  • Bone health (aids in calcium absorption)
  • Cell differentiation
  • Cell growth, maturation, and reproduction
  • Modulation of innate and adaptive immune responses¬Ļ

Let’s start with those who are vitamin D deficient. According to the Journal of Investigative Medicine, “Individuals with lower vitamin D levels (<30 nmol/L) were more likely to self-report a recent upper respiratory tract infection than those with sufficient levels, even after adjusting for variables including season, age, gender, body mass and race”. This is because both the risk and development of SARS, or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, is associated with lower serum vitamin D levels.¬†The risk is attributed to vitamin D increasing¬†“cathelicidins and defensins that can lower viral replication rates and [reduce] concentrations of pro-inflammatory cytokines that produce the inflammation that injures the lining of the lungs”.¬Ļ

From 2005-2006, the Nutrition Examination Survey found that 41.6% of Americans were vitamin D deficient.² This is a significant number, especially with the current risk of contracting the highly transmissible COVID-19 strain. Since many of us are still under a stay-at-home order and may not be getting enough sun, I highly recommend trying to either consume more foods that contain vitamin D (listed above) or to invest in a vitamin D3 supplement.

The National Institute of Health recommends daily doses of 600-800 IUs. Many supplements are higher than this, but due to the risk of hypercalcemia, calcification of soft tissues, and other side effects, it is not recommended to exceed 4,000 IUs/day.³ Although studies are currently looking at higher dosing for prevention and treatment, individuals should not attempt this at home.

It may take 2-4 weeks for vitamin D to accumulate to sufficient amounts in your system, so you may lower your dosage once you get back in the sun more often or ensure your levels are where they should be. A multivitamin with vitamin D can do the trick too.

The first bullet is where you want your numbers to be.

* Vitamin D sufficiency: Serum 25OHD 50-125 nmol/L (20-50 ng/mL)

* Vitamin D inadequacy: Serum 25OHD 30-49 nmol/L (12-19 ng/mL)

* Vitamin D deficiency: Serum 25OHD less than 30 nmol/L (12 ng/mL)³

You can get your levels checked in a routine biochemical lab panel from a blood draw. Contact your primary care physician to make an appointment.

But what about vitamin D treating those infected with COVID-19? 

While vitamin D reduces the risk of developing an infection, it does not guarantee protection or immunity from this virus. Nor has it been proven to treat or cure COVID-19.   I will leave you with this- vitamin D and vitamin C are strongly linked to improved immune responses. You can ensure your levels are where they need to be through consuming dietary sources or by supplementation, followed by getting bloodwork done.

However, “boosting your immune system” shouldn’t be a coined health phrase because we should always want to enforce our immune strength. This can be done by eating a well-balanced diet, scheduling regular wellness checkups with bloodwork and labs, and by taking supplements and/or a multivitamin.

Did I answer our questions about vitamin D in relation to COVID? Drop me a comment on what you thought!

The medical/health information is provided for general informational and educational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional advice. Accordingly, before taking any actions based upon such information, we encourage you to consult with the appropriate professionals. We do not provide any kind of medical/health advice. THE USE OR RELIANCE OF ANY INFORMATION CONTAINED ON THIS SITE OR OUR MOBILE APPLICATION IS SOLELY AT YOUR OWN RISK.

Photo by Michele Blackwell on Unsplash


1. Aranow C. Vitamin D and the Immune System. Journal of Investigative Medicine. 2011;59(6):881-886. doi:10.2310/jim.0b013e31821b8755
2. Parva NR, Tadepalli S, Singh P, et al. Prevalence of Vitamin D Deficiency and Associated Risk Factors in the US Population (2011-2012). Cureus. May 2018. doi:10.7759/cureus.2741
3. Office of Dietary Supplements РVitamin D. NIH Office of Dietary Supplements. Accessed May 18, 2020.

Changes in Appetite and Weight Gain are Normal When Self-isolating

Changes in Appetite and Weight Gain are Normal When Self-isolating

Uncertain times. Self-isolation. Social distancing. COVID-19. Pandemic. All words or phrases we can go the rest of 2020 (or our lives) without. The harsh reality is, all of these things currently describe our social climate, and this climate and environment are not what we’re accustomed to. As a result, our routines have changed, habits have been broken, and new rituals have been adopted. Eating is at the forefront of these changes, and many have struggled with their relationship to food and eating since lockdown.

I have spoken to many friends who have made self-deprecating comments about their weight gain over these past few months. While all I want to do is comfort them with “Oh no, you look great!”, I also want to relay the reality that it is okay if you’re not moving as much, eating more, or have gained weight in self-isolation. Here’s why.

1. Your routine has changed.

The fact is, all of our schedules have changed. Your Sunday meal prep may no longer be because it is no longer necessary. You can make your meals day to day since you’re home. You might not be waking up as early to eat breakfast, or you might be snacking later on in the day. A small grab-and-go breakfast with your nonfat latte is no longer, neither is your salad you used to have 15 minutes to scarf down at work. THIS IS ALL OKAY.

Embrace the change in your routine. Realize that while normalcy as we knew it has now evolved for the time being, we can still be empowered and take control of our meal prep, eating habits, and how we choose to accept that things are different. We can even try new things in the kitchen!

2. You’re likely not moving as much.

Replay your pre-COVID work or school day in your head. Go ahead. Take a moment to do this. Did you bike or walk to your destination? Climb the stairs to your office or the train? Walk or run with a family member, friend, or your pup? The point I’m trying to make is that we were much more active prior to all of this. It’s tough to say and acknowledge, but it’s true, and this is also OKAY. But why is this okay?

It’s okay that we’re not moving as much because this means that those who are still under the shelter-at-home order are abiding by the guidelines. It means we care about people and are showing it by social distancing. It means we’re doing our due diligence for society and the greater good of public health. While people are still getting out for runs and walks, it may not be as far or as long. Of course, there are the few exceptions for those who are still self-motivated to do at-home workouts. Kudos to you, my friends, but you must admit it’s still not the same as intense as gym workouts. We have to give ourselves and others grace, exercising or not.

3. Your sleep pattern may be off.

We no longer have to be in bed by 11PM since we no longer have to answer to our 6AM alarm. A lot of us are staying up and sleeping in later. Some may still be getting the suggested 7-9 hours per night, but many are not due to stress, anxiety, insomnia, and/or “quarantine dreams”.

When an individual is chronically sleep-deprived (less than 7 hours per night), ghrelin (the hunger hormone) increases and leptin (the satiety hormone) decreases. When this occurs, you eat more. Dr. Michael Grandner from the University of Arizona shared at the Food and Nutrition Conference of 2019 that those who are chronically sleep-deprived tend to eat 300-500 more calories per day than those who sleep well.

Here are some tips from the National Sleep Foundation¬†on how to achieve a better night’s sleep.

4. Your hormones are out of whack.

In addition to an increase in ghrelin (the hunger hormone) and decrease in leptin (the satiety hormone), epinephrine and cortisol are released when the body is under stress. Worrying about finances, anxiety about contracting COVID, and the psychological effects of self-isolation all qualify as stressors.

When epinephrine (aka adrenaline) is released, your body breaks down glycogen (stored glucose/simple carbohydrate) in the liver. When cortisol is released, your body actually produces glucose in the liver. Yes! Our body is so incredible, it can produce glucose when the body is in need. Any fight-or-flight response instigates both hormones to be released. Having more glucose, or sugar, in the body actually decreases appetite because our body is considered “fed”, so people in isolation may be experiencing waves of no appetite followed by ravenous bouts.

5. Objective or perceived life stress (PSL) can lead to binge eating.

According to a study about isolation and eating habits, “perceived social isolation [is] associated with greater binge eating”. Isolation means we’re alone and/or separated from society- our friends and family- those who bring us joy and meaning to life. With a lack of socialization, loneliness increases, and behavioral changes ensue. Behavior is directly correlated with eating habits, thus, these behavior changes and possible cognitive distress can trigger binge eating. Another study concluded that perceived life stress (PLS) and cognitive restraint can lead to stress eating comfort food. This type of stress eating can be addicting and difficult to break because this behavior can give a false sense of emotional relief and control over something.

Psychologically speaking, eating can be about control. For those with eating disorders- behavioral ¬†issues, trauma, stress, and perfectionism can all be reasons for their existing condition. You can see how self-isolation, losing a job, or the unknown would all be fairly aggressive triggers for these disorders- worsening the condition or causing one to relapse. If you or someone you know is struggling with their relationship to food, check out this article titled, ”¬†Binge Eating Disorder and Isolation: How to Break Out of the Cycle”.

Here are some other resources to seek help. In addition, please contact your physician or a local eating disorder clinic for better care and guidance.



In Summary…

A change in appetite and weight gain are normal when self-isolating. Our minds and body’s adapt and meld to our environment and social climate. This adaptation might involve eating more and moving less. It is our bodies response to stress, change, and boredom (which I failed to mention earlier). Please be kind to yourselves, give yourselves grace, process and feel your emotions, and reach out to loved ones or medical professionals if you need help. I am always here as a listening ear should you need one.

Love you all. Stay safe and take care. Xo Danielle